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Thursday, 24 September 2015

Controversy over Charles Darwin's Religious Views

The religious views of Charles Darwin have been in the news over the last few days. They even prompted a "Thought for the Day" this morning on BBC Radio 4 Today by Bishop Tom Butler. Like Bishop Butler, I do not consider the text of the letter that has come to light to mean he was an atheist as, for example, The Times described him.yesterday in a short item.

The letter was in response to Francis McDermott, a barrister and committed Christian. Darwin’s reply, penned on 24 November 1880 – exactly 21 years after the publication of On the Origin of Species – was to the point:

"Dear Sir,

I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the son of God.

Yours faithfully

Ch. Darwin"

It is not wise to determine the religious views of any individual by a few words. Rev Cliff Reed, a retired British Unitarian minister, has traced the evolution of Darwin's religious thinking throughout the course of his life. The results of his work, in the Lindsey Press publication "Till the Peoples All Are One": Darwin's Unitarian Connections" (2011) may surprise many readers.

The book can be obtained from Essex Hall or all major online booksellers.

1 comment:

  1. Happy to see this response! As we celebated a few years ago, I gave a sermon on Darwin's Gift. He taught us that love is God." His message was not a celebraton of tooth and claw individualism, But of communities. And as pointed out in the book by Cliff Reed, the vision that all humanity is called to be a commuity of communities sharing ONENESS. Exactly what many discover in their quest for spirituality. Richard Boeke